By Alicia Prager and Doris Pundy
The European Parliament’s future is expected to be quite exciting.
The times of clear majorities are now over. This was demonstrated by the institution’s first two votes when they elected the presidents of the European Commission and the Parliament.
Compared to the previous European Parliament, the two major groups, the conservative European Peoples’ Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, need to focus on better cooperation with other political groups. A grand coalition can no longer reach decisions.
“For us, this means that we can push through our issues more effectively,” said the German Green MEP and former Spitzenkandidat of the group, Ska Keller.
According to Keller, effectively pushing issues would work for issues where there is a majority to the left of the centre, such as climate or migration. It is still open how right-wing parties would behave. “In any case, we need to make sure that we bring together pro-European changes,” said Keller.
Renew Europe as ‘kingmaker.’
However, Renew Europe is regarded as the ‘kingmaker’ among the parliamentary groups, according to the organisation VoteWatch Europe, which analyses the European Parliament and Council. The organisation regularly publishes a list of the 100 most influential MEPs.
“We expect many Renew Europe members to be on the list in the future,” VoteWatch Europe’s Davide Ferrari told EURACTIV.
However, it is still unclear what positions the liberal group will take on some issues. As the successor of ALDE, the group is expected to push for market liberalisation.
However, the group’s French MEPs, who are numerous, are less in favour of economic deregulation than their party colleagues.
On economic issues, the group is likely to follow the EPP, while it could follow the S&D on climate and migration issues, according to Ferrari.
“However, we need to wait and see how the group’s internal dynamics develop,” he added.
German MEPs are numerous and experienced
On average, French MEPs will be gaining the most influence, and Spanish MEPS will also expand theirs.
However, German MEPs will carry the most significant weight – not least because Germany sends a slightly higher number of experienced MPs to Brussels and Strasbourg.
Out of the 96 German MEPs, 52 are new to the job – around 54%.
The percentage of new MEPs from other countries is around 60%. “At the beginning at least, this will be to the advantage of German delegations,” Ferrari said.
One of the veterans with a lot of influence is Manfred Weber. Despite being the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat who failed to win the European Commission presidency, he was still able to raise his profile considerably. Weber continues to head the EPP group, the largest political family in the European Parliament.
David McAllister, an MEP from Germany’s leading Christian Democrats (CDU), was elected to chair the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in early July. It is a prestigious position that was held by long-term German MEP Elmar Brok for years.
Another very influential and experienced German MEP is Bernd Lange. The MEP from Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) was elected in May for the fifth time and will chair the Committee on International Trade for the next five years.
Among the newcomers, two German MEPs are unlikely to go unnoticed: former German Justice Minister Katarina Barley and Nicola Beer, a top candidate of Germany’s liberal party, the Free Democratic Party (FDP). Beer’s party recently joined the Renew Europe group.
Both have been elected vice-presidents of the European Parliament.
*First published in euractiv.com